Whether you’re reminiscent of Rapunzel or sporting a pixie cut, you want healthy-looking tresses that are shiny and strong – not dull and weak. We know all the usual things that help to boost hair health, like applying a deep conditioning mask every once in a while and avoiding excessive heat styling, but did you know you’re damaging your hair every day without even knowing it?
According to experts, there are seven major mistakes – or deadly sins considering how guilty we are – that we commonly make when it comes to hair care, from not brushing enough to washing it incorrectly. How many have you committed today?
Tying Your Ponytail Too Tight
When you want to stop your hair from flying all over the place, pulling it into a ponytail is a sensible option. But if you tie it too tight, you could be putting so much pressure on your follicles that it leads to traction alopecia.
“This may lead to permanent hair loss if done repeatedly over a long period of time,” warns Anabel Kingsley, trichologist at Philip Kingsley. So don’t scrape your locks back severely or you might end up with a receding hairline and permanent damage.
Not Brushing Enough
We all could do with brushing our hair a bit more, according to celebrity stylist Neil Moodie. “Hair has a lifespan of approximately seven years and, on average, we lose around 120 hairs a day to make way for new ones to grow. If you don’t brush your hair, these hairs won’t loosen out. Brushing with a good brush also helps to stimulate the scalp, which encourages healthy hair growth.”
Denman ‘7-Row Cushion Brush’
Skimping on Poolside Protection
If you’re a regular swimmer, it’s important to minimize damage to your hair. “Chlorinated and salt water can be drying on your hair, especially African-Caribbean hair as it tends to be more porous,” says Kingsley.
If you don’t have a swim cap or don’t want to wear one (understandable – you don’t want to cramp your poolside style), Moodie recommends wetting your hair before taking the plunge. “It adds an extra layer of coating, so when you go swimming, your hair isn’t as likely to absorb 100 percent of the chlorinated water.”
Not Washing It Right
Frequently shampooing your hair is essential for hair growth and health. “Your hair, just like any other part of your body, does not clean itself,” says Kingsley, busting the myth that your hair becomes self-cleaning if you stop washing it.
Plus, washing your hair has an extra benefit in helping to reduce daily hair fall. “When you shampoo your hair, the act of massaging dislodges the loose hairs sitting detached in the follicle.” So next time you lather up, use your fingertips to gently massage your scalp, which helps to exfoliate and keep it healthy.
Philip Kingsley ‘Exfoliating Scalp Mask’
Being Too Rough
“It’s okay to brush your hair when it’s wet, but as wet hair is naturally weaker than dry hair, it’s important to be gentle,” says Kingsley. “When detangling, start from your ends and work your way up. Starting from the top increases friction on the hair shaft and is more likely to result in breakage.”
As for the brush? It should have flexible plastic prongs with rounded ends as bristles can damage the outer cuticle of hair strands.
Towel-drying may seem like the gentler approach compared to blow-drying, but that’s not always the case. “Forcefully drying your hair with a towel results in frizz and tangled hair, as well as breakages,” says Moodie. “Use your hands to gently squeeze out extra water in large sections, then do the same with a towel, blotting the hair rather than rubbing.”
Sleeping on It
“People don’t realize your hair can get damaged while you’re sleeping,” says Moodie. “When you’re moving about, your hair rubs on the pillow, which creates friction and causes breakage.”
As we now know, wet hair is weaker, so if you go to bed with soaking locks, they’re even more susceptible to damage. “Avoid going to bed with wet hair,” Moodie advises. “I also always recommend a silk pillow as it causes less friction than cotton.”
Slip ‘Silk Pillowcase’